FAIR State Group Pushes Controversial Populationist, Sterilization Agenda

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone • Nov 16, 2012

Joyce Tarnow (l) in an Abortion Clinic. John Tanton (r)

In 2010 Florida voters rejected Amendment 4, the Florida Comprehensive Land Use Plans Amendment. Ostensibly designed to give local voters more control over land use planning, the amendment was funded in part by Floridians for a Sustainable Population (FSP), an official state contact group of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Though the amendment was defeated, it represented yet another unsettling attempt to pass off populationist ideas as thoughtful opposition to profit-driven development and environmental destruction. FAIR State Group Pushes Controversial Populationist, Sterilization Agenda

Anti-immigrant groups have in the past used such populationist ideas to entice environmentalists and progressives into adopting an anti-immigrant stance. Joyce Tarnow, FSP’s leader and one of the main proponents of Amendment 4, is certainly adept at employing this tactic-he’s had close to four decades of practice, after all.

Unsurprising when one learns of her closest allies.

Tarnow is a long-time friend of John Tanton, the architect of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement.  Tarnow is credited with “27 years of leadership” at Zero Population Growth, as well, where she and Tanton worked together in the mid-1970s. Though both ultimately resigned at different times from ZPG, they did so for the same reason-the organization refused to take a hard-line stance on immigration and immigrants.

In the past Tarnow has staunchly and publically defended Tanton, which further reflects the extent of their continuing friendship and willingness to collaborate.

In 2010 came more evidence of such a willingness, as U.S., Inc, Tanton’s personal foundation, donated $10,000 to Floridians for a Sustainable Population-a large sum for a small organization. This was the second largest grant that Tanton distributed that year, second only to the $22,000 donated to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (from which Kris Kobach and others pen “self-deportation” anti-immigrant legislation like Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56).  Ideologically Tarnow is clearly aligned with the Tanton network, especially with its grassroots mobilizing and lobbying arm, NumbersUSA. FSP mailings and propaganda repeatedly link to or endorse the NumbersUSA website.

Given the recent attention that Tarnow’s FSP has been receiving from major players in the anti-immigrant movement, it seems likely that we will witness further collaboration in the not-too-distant future-perhaps with the Tanton network’s Progressives for Immigration Reform, an “anti-growth” group that casts immigration as the main factor behind out-of-control population growth and immigrants as the chief culprits effecting environmental degradation.

And so it is likely that FSP’s projects will be veiled as progressive environmentalism.

In addition to her anti-immigrant sentiments, Tarnow is also an abortion provider who has a long history of advocating for mass sterilizations. She dangerously unites the generally opposing worlds of reproductive health advocacy and anti-immigrant activism via the rhetoric of population control ideology. This ideology is a foundational aspect of “populationism.” There is a thin line between those who passively complain about issues of overpopulation and those who actively support and endeavor into actual eugenical practices in order to decrease populations and/or specific demographics of individuals.

Tarnow falls into the later category of those endeavoring into eugenics. She, for example, insists on the following:

“[F]ertility is an environmental issue. That’s why I try to get as many people sterilized as are in my way!”

Her disturbing approach to reproductive “advocacy” is to promote sterilization as a solution to overpopulation. Tarnow’s sweeping, uncritical support for sterilization, of course, brings up the same issues of abuse, coercion, and deception that have always plagued its utilization. Her cavalier attitude toward sterilization mirrors her dismissal of complex international issues. Her suggestion, for example, that Haiti should “stew in [its] own juices” rather than receive aid from other countries sheds light on the calloused degree to which Tarnow regards human life and species survival.

Coupled with her anti-immigrant stance, it is easy enough to imagine that sterilizing immigrants might be at the top of Joyce Tarnow’s to-do list.

No doubt serious attention should be focused on donations, such as the sum gifted to Floridians for Sustainable Population, as nothing good can possibly result from the efforts of individuals like Tarnow, who seem to lack even the slightest semblance of empathy for other human beings-never mind the bodies and rights of women the world over.

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